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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Race Report: 2010 Sudbury Turkey Trot

Wow, 6 days since I last posted on this blog. I just had a stupid busy week this past week and I guess this is the first time I get to write.  This week was a rather busy week for my running, as I was to run a HARD/HIGH week and had to 65km.  I managed to outdo that, but I guess we'll have to wait for my weekly mileage roundup, which I will post tomorrow night.

This weekend saw me and Melanie travel to Sudbury for Thanksgiving with part of our family (miss you Nat, Al and Zavier!) and it has been an absolutely gorgeous weekend filled with sunshine, family, food, running and a touch of beer.

Update: Results are now online! 


So the day started out rather normally. Up bright and early at 7:30 and a light breakfast by 8am. We got all our running gear together and by 8:45 Melanie, Joce and I were all ready to hop into our little Rabbit.

This was the first time that Joce and I have entered the same race, so it was nice to share the moments of today with her. Upon arriving to the race location, the Laurentian Conservation Area, Melanie started to realized just how grueling this race may be as we were forced to park about 500m away from the start and climb up Cardiac Hill. The hill gets its name for the fact that it will cause just about any athlete to quite nearly have a heart attack upon seeing it, and then promptly have one as they make their way up.

The race area was well organized with a registration area, a few washrooms and a nice finish line complete with timing clock. We were not expecting this as the race was billed as a fun run. The weather was perfect. By 10am the temperature was probably above 10C and the full sun was shining down on us. Given the fact today was the 10th of October (10/10/10 woot) we could not have asked for anything better.

The kids started off with a 1km race that was won by a young girl in just under 6 minutes.  After that we made our way to the start of the race where the 5km walk, 5km run and 8.3km run racers toed the line together. On your mark. Get set. Go.

And we're off!


Having run in these trails in the past, it all felt very familiar during my warmup and for the first 400m or so. Then my world got turned upside down. Let's back it up a bit and give a bit of background.

This Turkey Trot race changes location every year. Last year it was run in Windy Lake and this year the popular vote from last year decided that it would be the Laurentian Conservation Trails. Fine enough, there are cross country skiing trails to be run on. But no....the organizing committee decided we run on the snowshoeing trails. Trails that are so narrow you can barely fit your shoes on them. Trails that are used exclusively in the winter, when snow completely covers the uncovered roots, fallen trees and jagged rocks. Trails that when frozen, aren't wet, but that wasn't the case today.

I have never, ever run on such mentally demanding trails in my life. And I have done many XC runs in my past, far too many.  Within the first km I was boxed in behind a few slower runners with nowhere to pass and when I found the first opening I could I decided to put in a surge just so I could put them behind me.  Shortly after I was soaring through the woods. Jumping over water, avoiding rocks, dodging fallen trees and swatting prickly branches. At this point, about the 3km mark, I passed a fellow and thought I was in second overall.

I felt great about my position, my legs were light and springy and I wasn't over exerting my lungs at all. Then the hills kept coming. The water got deeper, colder, wetter. I rolled my left ankle but recovered so quickly I can barely remember rolling it. I didn't see anyone for at least 2 km, but then found another runner ahead of me who magically appeared from the woods. I can only imagine nature was calling.

So I trailed him moving from 4km to 5km and tried to slowly reel him in as we took in the last challenging segment of the run. More fallen trees, mossy rocks, wet leaves and a 500m hill that felt like it would never end. Then all of a sudden a runner came whizzing past me, in the opposite directions. I was surprised to see him, but then another. Damn, turns out I was in fourth at this point and had some work to do if I wanted to finish top 3, possibly 2nd. We finished the out portion of what turned out to be an out and back loop and I had finally caught up to the runner ahead of me. He let me pass him as we circled the cone at the edge of Perch Lake and I took off like a madman. I knew the large uphill we took on the way out here would be a large downhill this time around and being an excellent downhill runner, I wanted to capitalize on this to try and catch 2nd place.

As I weaved my way back through the maze of wilderness I also had to contend with the other runners taking part in the 8.3km race. Luckily, many of them politely moved out of the way, as did I, but a few apparently didn't see me coming and didn't even flinch as I had to re-route my feet at the last second. Luckily I managed to stay upright and escape rolled ankle hell.

As I was coming up to the gravel road that connected both trails we ran on I noticed a flash of red/white and I knew right then and there that I had made up close to a minute of time on the 2nd place male. Oh, what to do now?

At this point I realized I probably had another 1km or so left as I was at the 32min mark. There were but a few hills left and a wide gravel path to run on. I made up at least 100m by the time we crested the last hill and my legs were really starting to feel like lead. He started to pick up the pace, and so did I. I closed a little, maybe to within 10m. As I surged, he responded. I just couldnt get any closer no matter what I could do and my burning lungs and heavy legs didn't help my case.

We ended up finishing 2nd and 3rd, except I wasn't 2nd. He finished in 35:40 and I finished in 35:44, but a few feet behind him. All in all, it was a great race. I felt great throughout and managed to maintain a rather steady and fast pace.  Impressive considering that for the entire 8.3km there was only about 1km of what one might consider 'flat'.


We stuck around after for some of the best post race grub we've ever had. Homemade muffins, squares, rice krispies and cupcakes adorned the food tent and I was in heaven.  Once everyone finished we waited around for the award ceremony since I was to receive at least a medal. A medal I received and a door prize I won. Nothing more, nothing less.

I had a blast but found the trail to be incredibly demanding. So did Melanie and Jocelyne who both still had amazing races.

We capped off the day with a post run protein brownie that Joce made us and I dipped my feet and calves in the frigid water of some random lake at the Conservation Area.  It felt amazing, like a massive ice bath. I wish I had one of those in my backyard. Here's a shot we took with Joce's cell phone at the lake:

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